I understand that the GM follows a bit different rules for getting and spending Fate Points (FP). For instance, she only gets one FP per player and scene.

My question is when to use them, since the rules suggest those are the ones NPCs have access to.

The NPCs under your control are not so lucky. They have a limited pool of fate points you get to use on their behalf. Whenever a scene starts, you get one fate point for every PC in that scene. You can use these points on behalf of any NPC you want, but you can get more in that scene if they take a compel, like PCs do.

So, when compeling a PC, do the GM lose one FP from her pool? Or when invoking a PC aspect to difficult his action, while not on behalf of an NPC but to make things more interesting?


2 Answers 2


The NPC pool spends for numbers. The GM reserve spends for plot.

There are two ways the GM can spend Fate Points on aspects in order to hit the PC's aspects or otherwise give them Fate Points.

Compels from the GM side - offering Fate Points for unfortunate plot directions to make perfect sense in light of PC or scene aspects, darn the luck - are proposed without cost and pay out from the unlimited GM reserve:

(from the SRD, Compelling Aspects)

[I]f a player wants to compel another character, it costs a fate point to propose the complication. The GM can always compel for free.

So if the GM's running a scene where the PCs are fighting Dark Stobolous in the engine room and things start going as they inevitably should, the GM can freely spend out of the NPC pool to boost Dark Stobolous's swings with the Fission Tulwar without worrying about saving a fate point to make a dubious escape in the chaos of the Self-Destructing Planet Cracker, darn the luck. That's a compel for a plot complication, so even though it benefits Dark Stobolous he doesn't have to pay because he's not a player - and because it hit a scene aspect to the PCs' detriment, they'll each get a Fate Point for taking the compel.

Invokes from the GM side - spending Fate Points to e.g. boost or reroll a die result - spend out of the scene NPC pool, even if there doesn't seem to be an NPC to spend it on. Let's say that you're running the players' escape as a scene, and in the course of it you realize that, hey, Starhound's Cleanly Severed Leg consequence (because the Fission Tulwar don't mess around) is going to make jumping the destroyed catwalk to the hanger more difficult.

But compels don't have numbers attached to them. They're about plot progression, through events and decisions. What are you going to compel Starhound to do, stay behind and die? You just want to make the jump harder! Well, remember the Bronze Rule: anything can be a character. And one of the standard uses of an invoke is to:

(from the SRD, Invoking Aspects)

Add +2 to any source of passive opposition, if it’s reasonable that the aspect you’re invoking could contribute to making things more difficult.

So, why not? The gap is just enough of a character that you can spend Fate Points out of the NPC pool to increase its passive opposition.


The Fate SRD answers this question immediately above the quoted section:

When you award players fate points for compels or concession, they come out of an unlimited pool you have for doing so—you don’t have to worry about running out of fate points to award, and you always get to compel for free.

My understanding is that the NPC Fate pool is only used for the NPCs to invoke their own Aspects or power stunts in order to prevent them continually doing so and thus becoming much stronger opposition to the PCs. Anything that a player would need to pay a FP for, the NPC can pay an FP for from the NPC pool. all other FP usage by the GM is from the central infinite pool.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I feel like this is a really helpful answer which could be even more helpful if edited to be a bit clearer. Thanks, Dave. \$\endgroup\$
    – Masclins
    Oct 25, 2018 at 14:08

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